by Staff Writers
El Segundo, CA (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
The Aerospace center for space policy analysis - one of five strategic initiatives recently announced by President and CEO Steve Isakowitz - issued an informative backgrounder on the National Space Council. The incoming Trump administration has signaled that it might move to revive the advisory organization, which has been absent from the White House since the George H.W. Bush administration.
According to Dr. Jim Vedda, senior policy analyst at Aerospace, a White House space advisory group was originally mandated by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the same legislation that created NASA. Since that time, some form of space advisory group has supported the agendas of most (but not all) presidential administrations.
These achieved varying degrees of success in steering national space policy. The question now arises as to whether a National Space Council will indeed become a feature of the Trump White House, and whether it will chart a sustainable path forward or fall victim to the same pitfalls that hobbled many of its predecessors.
According to Vedda, the success of the new council will depend on numerous factors - most critically, the president's level of interest and attention. If new priorities eclipse the space domain, the space council will have a hard time achieving meaningful results.
This is important to remember, because the space agenda will often be dictated by events beyond the council's control - for example, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, or an escalation in global tensions. Organizational structure and staffing are also critical, Vedda said. "The council staff needs to have adequate size and expertise," he said.
"Additionally, it would be preferable to have dedicated staff rather than detailees from agencies to minimize the likelihood of turf battles." The staffing balance must also consider the need to maintain productive relationships with Congress, relevant agencies, and other components of the Executive Office of the President, especially the Office of Management and Budget.
"Informal interactions and individual personalities matter," Vedda said. "Getting the chemistry right can mean the difference between smooth, successful operations and stalemate."
Properly configured, a National Space Council could go a long way toward efficiently setting goals and fixing problems that cut across the civil, commercial, and defense space sectors, Vedda said.
Some of these issues include export control, acquisition reform, the health of the space industrial base, space debris mitigation, space traffic management, facilitation of emerging commercial space industries, and determination of goals and priorities for space activities beyond low Earth orbit.
"The search for solutions to these problems will drive the requirements and expectations of space-related agencies across the government, and a National Space Council could be driving that search and shaping the next generation of the nation's space activities," he said.
For further details, see Vedda's paper here
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